As the investigation continues into 19-year-old Kendrec McDade's death by police gunfire on March 24, the scenario is looking worse and worse for the two Pasadena police officers who shot McDade.
Last Saturday, at a tense community meeting near the crime scene, Pasadena Police Chief Philip Sanchez urged the public to “wait for the judicial process to find out what ultimately occurred.”
But that will take months. Impatience was in the air…
… in New Revelation Baptist Church, as McDade's friends and neighbors grilled the chief with questions like, “Why didn't the officers have their sirens on?” and “Must the police shoot to kill?”
As usual, many details of the shooting are being kept under wraps until the official investigation comes to an end. But the undisputed facts are that McDade was not armed (though a 911 caller lied that he was) and did not threaten the officers with violence.
Police critics at the church muttered insults throughout Sanchez' dodgy explanation of what happened to McDade, saying racism was at the core of the shooting.
Aside from the obvious parallel to Trayvon Martin — the black kid shot to death by a neighborhood watchman in Florida just days before McDade — here are six more controversial police killings of black men throughout L.A. County in the last few years.
6. Leroy Barnes
In another controversial shooting for the Pasadena Police Department, cops killed 38-year-old Barnes in February 2009. During a routine traffic stop, they fired multiple rounds at the father of two, who lived only one block away, as he exited his vehicle. They originally claimed the victim had been armed — but no gun was ever recovered from the scene.
5. Reggie Doucet, Jr.
Los Angeles civil-rights leaders were equally furious, in January 2011, to learn that LAPD officers had killed unarmed 25-year-old Reggie Doucet — a former college football star wearing only his underwear. Cops had been called to Doucet's apartment over a dispute between the young black man and his cab driver. Although Doucet wasn't armed, the officer who shot him dead (also black) said that he was acting extremely violent and reaching for the officer's gun holster.
4. Michael Byoune
In May 2008, Inglewood police gunned down 19-year-old Byoune as he sat, unarmed, in the back of a vehicle near a crime scene. Gunshots had been reported in the area — so cops, after seeing Byoune's driver run to the car and begin to pull away, opened fire.
Turns out they had the wrong vehicle. The Hinterland Gazette reported that “police now believe that the man who entered the vehicle was not connected to the shooting. Byoune was shot at least three times in the torso and died at the scene.”
3. Kevin Wicks
Wicks, a 38-year-old postman from Inglewood, was killed in his doorway by the same officer who had killed Byoune just two months earlier. Cops were investigating complaints of a man and woman fighting at Wicks' apartment building — so when the postal worker opened his door with an unloaded gun in his right hand, they shot him dead on the spot.
2. Marcus Smith
In the fifth officer-involved shooting at the Inglewood Police Department in a matter of two years, 31-year-old Smith was gunned down at a family party circa May 2009. Once again, officers claimed he was armed, but witnesses reportedly said “that Smith did not have a gun, that the officers gave no warning or command, and that Smith was not given immediate medical help after he was shot. They also claim that they were beaten, verbally abused, and subject to arrest for protesting the killing.”
1. Anthony Dwain Lee
Although it doesn't really fit in with the rest of the shootings, this October 2000 tragedy was one of the most bizarre: In a roomful of white people at a Halloween party in the Benedict Canyon, Liar, Liar actor Lee, 39, was killed by an LAPD officer when he lifted a fake gun in her direction. Friends later claimed that “some guests at the party were costumed as police, and that the real police never identified themselves as such before opening fire,” according to ABC News. They also said: “His biggest fear was getting killed by cops, because he's a tall black man.”